Pet Semetary movie review: Many tense moments, impeccable craft in this adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller

Mihir Fadnavis

Apr 12, 2019 15:18:44 IST

3/5

If you’re in for decently designed scares, a nice, comfy atmosphere for a horror movie, and the willingness to invest in a reboot that doesn’t suck, the new Pet Semetary film is the fix you need. It’s not as groundbreaking as the original film from 30 years ago, and it may probably not satisfy fans of that movie, but it’s serviceable escapist horror that has just enough meat to sink your horror addict teeth into.

The setup remains the same – an American family, led by Dr. Louis (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), decides to leave the chaos of the big city behind and move into a small town for much needed tranquility. Things seem to be all dandy as they shift to their new home and make friends with the neighbor Jud (John Lithgow). Tragedy strikes quickly when the family cat passes away, but Jud reveals to the family about a burial ground nearby which is supposed to resurrect the dead. And if you’re familiar with the horror genre in any way, you can guess how this progresses into something the good-natured American family would not expect.

Pet Semetary movie review: Many tense moments, impeccable craft in this adaptation of Stephen Kings bestseller

A still from Pet Semetary. Image from Facebook.

The film is directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, who made the terrific and underrated Starry Eyes five years ago. The filmmakers took a metaphorical approach in that film, bridging the horror with psychological conflicts and they carry the tactic forward in the Pet Semetary remake, furthering the meditation on death, what it means to cut off spiritually with someone you love, and how you would deal with said loved one returning to you. The treatment isn’t as abstract as David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, but sort of sits between that arthouse film and the more bump-in-the-dark ‘commercial’ movies that you see nowadays set in haunted houses, with the ‘strangeness’ DNA of Netflix’s recent Stephen King adaptations.

There are many, many moments of tension sprinkled throughout the film; some of them good enough to make you squirm, and some that are clever enough to make you chuckle when the scene completes. The craft is impeccable, with the lighting and shadows being an integral part of rendering the creepy atmosphere that a backwoods horror movie deserves. Cat lovers, of course, might roll an eye or two when the motif of their favourite pet is mined for spooky moments, but those scared of the mystical creatures (and there are many of them) might be looking for a change in their trousers every few minutes.

It is easy, however, to get offended by some of the things that occur in the film involving children and pets, but King’s stories have never really catered to the faint-hearted.

Comparisons between the old and the new film are inevitable but it is not recommended because they’re both differently executed movies, and this one particularly needs you to suspend your disbelief because of the more ‘real world’ approach it takes. The performances are all top notch if you exclude the CGI cat hamming it a little bit when the chips go down. But whether you’re on a date or are alone or are in the mood to take your family out for a nice movie about the secret life of 'undead' pets, do drive to the nearest theater and enjoy the warm benefits that this genre offers.

Updated Date: Apr 12, 2019 15:18:44 IST

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